U.S. Army researchers have begun captive carry tests of advanced seekers that could be utilized in a future “spiral” of its Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) program.
The initial seeker testing, which was conducted at Redstone Arsenal utilizing a Learjet surrogate platform, was outlined during a media roundtable on June 4.
According to Brigadier General John Rafferty, Director of the Army Future Command’s Long Range Precision Fires Cross Functional Team, the event represented “the successful first open air active carry testing of an advanced multimode seeker,” which is being explored under a science and technology effort called the Land-Based Anti-Ship Missile (LBASM) program. That program was started in 2015 and is being led by the Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation and Missile Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
Describing the test, Mike Turner, fires capability area lead at the Aviation and Missile Center, explained that the seeker was mounted in a pod under the aircraft wing, with the aircraft flying paths over and adjacent to the target.
“We’re pretty pleased with the preliminary results,” Turner said. “What that means for the future is, in future long range fires missiles, we could use this technology to locate targets in an A2AD [anti-access / aerial denial] environment that may have larger than we’re used to dealing with target location errors, so that we can operate in that environment and successfully prosecute targets with unknown or poorly located coordinates.”
He added, “What started back in 2015 as an idea is now starting to show its promise in a practical sense in a test environment.”
Rafferty emphasized that the current approach for PrSM is to get an initial capability out to the field as quickly as possible and then explore future “spirals” that could add capabilities.
“That urgent material release [for initial PrSM] will be in 2023,” he said. “And, because that program is doing so well, with our third successful flight test back on April 30th, we’re very confident in our ability as a team to deliver that on schedule.”
He continued, “Now we’re looking for how can we accelerate the ‘spiral 1’ capability, which has a multimode seeker, to attack a variety of targets…We want the range [of PrSM] but then we also want to explore targets across multiple domains. And that’s what we believe this multimode seeker will give us the ability to do. And yesterday was a very, very important first step in demonstrating the maturity of the technology and the promise for integrating it into the missile for delivery as quickly as we can.”